Semi-Dwarf Fruit Trees Vs. Ultra-Dwarf

Even when your gardening space consists of a small yard or patio, it is possible to develop your own fruit trees. You can pick from a variety of ultra-dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees, including apples (Malus domestica), pears (Pyrus communis), peaches (Prunus persica) and plums (Prunus domestica). Container-grown fruit trees typically prefer well-drained potting soil and full sun, and need water when the soil surface feels dry. In areas with warm winters, choose low-chill varieties, which need as few as 100 hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and over 32 degrees to bloom and set fruit. Many varieties are self-fertile and also do not need another cultivar nearby for cross-pollination.

Ultra-Dwarf Description

At 3 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet broad, ultra-dwarf fruit trees are a good choice for a patio. Despite their small size , they make abundant, standard-size fruitsand vegetables. For instance, ultra-dwarf fruit trees may create over 30 apples or 50 plums within 1 season, according to Pacific Groves. A good example is ultra-dwarf “Dorsett Golden” apple, that can be a low-chill, self-fertile variety that grows around 4 to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. It produces gold yellow fruits and vegetables is hardy at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10.

Semi-Dwarf Description

Larger than ultra-dwarf fruit trees, semi-dwarf trees grow around 15 to 20 feet tall. These trees are usually 30 to 80 percent as tall as the normal size of this variety, according to the University of California Cooperative Extension. They require a 15- to 20-foot-wide growing space and will rise in a half-barrel container. Annual pruning will maintain their size. A good instance is the semi-dwarf “Kieffer” pear tree, which grows up to 18 feet tall and also thrives in USDA zones 4 through 9. This low-chill, self-fertile variety produces yellow fruits with a red blush.


To create either ultra-dwarf or semi-dwarf fruit trees, lions graft a cultivar to a rootstock that causes dwarfing. Some rootstocks create ultra-dwarf fruit trees, but others create semi-dwarf trees. A rootstock may have assigned letters and numbers. As an instance, M27, P22 and CG65 rootstocks create ultra-dwarf apple trees, and M7, EMLA7 and M7A create semi-dwarf apple trees, in accordance with Longwood Gardens. Other examples include EMLA Quince A and OH x FH33, which create semi-dwarf pear trees.


Inadequate soil and improper growing conditions could cause some trees, such as ultra-dwarf apple trees in M27, P22 and CG65 rootstocks, to produce inferior excellent fruit. Fruit trees in some dwarfing rootstocks, such as EMLA Quince A and C, have fragile roots and require a stake or trellis to keep them erect. If you plant a semi-dwarf or ultra-dwarf fruit tree, ensure the union between the rootstock and the cultivar is 2 to 3 inches above the soil line. If the graft union is below the soil, the tree will climb to a standard size.

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